Literature has always been under close scrutiny of censorship. After all, it covered a variety of topics – politics, religion, sex. So there have always been intolerant, which disagreeable writer something prevented.
It’s good that there is freedom in today’s world. We can read about the secret affairs of politicians, sexual literature excites, and detectives are full of violence. And no one will come in search of forbidden literature.
And yet not so long ago there were times when society prohibited the most scandalous books, removing them from the shelves of shops and libraries. Let’s talk about the most famous representatives of the “black” list.
“A wonderful new world,” Aldous Huxley (1932).
This book was written in 1931, and was published a year later. Initially, the novel was conceived in the form of a parody of the utopia of Herbert Wells “People as gods.” But in the end, the topic became very similar to the work of George Orwell “1984”. The author turned to the popular at that time topic of general industrialization, he investigated the problems of losing a man’s self and a strong division of society. All this in the end provoked simply catastrophic consequences. The book contains many names and allusions associated with real politicians who influenced the fate of mankind. This satirical novel was banned in Ireland because of the ambiguous approach to the birth of children. Huxley suggested that they would simply be grown in special factories. In some American states, the book was withdrawn from school libraries, as it created a too negative emotional background. The author himself almost 30 years later wrote a non-artistic continuation, in which he came to the conclusion that humanity is moving towards a new world even faster than its expectations. Grapes of Wrath, John Steinbeck (1939).
For this novel, the American writer John Steinbeck was awarded the Pulitzer Prize. The point is that the Great Depression affected the destinies of the rural poor. A family of tenant farmers from Oklahoma, in search of a better life due to a drought and a difficult economic situation, left her home and went with thousands of the same unfortunates to California. The novel reveals a real human tragedy. The author himself spent the summer of 1936 among seasonal workers, collecting materials for his essays. But what he saw so shocked him, which became the basis of the book. Steinbeck said that some citizens of the country are dragging out a miserable existence. Literary criticism took the novel with delight, but the authorities officially banned the book in some US states. People were shocked by such a detailed description of poverty. The writer himself told that his story was still embellished, in fact the situation in the camps of forced labor migrants was much more difficult. The book was denied the right to be present in the libraries of New York, St. Louis, Kansas City and Buffalo. In 1953, the “Grapes of Wrath” was banned by Ireland, and in 1982 – by the Canadian city of Morris. Even in the 70-80s, due to the use of vulgar words “Grapes of Wrath” were forbidden in some US schools.
“Tropic of Cancer”, Henry Miller (1934).
This work takes place in France in the 1930s. The main character is the author himself, who was poor in those years and tried at least somehow to make a living. Miller, not at all embarrassed, describes his sexual adventures and relationships with fellow writers. As soon as the book was published, it immediately caused a mixed reaction in society. Too frankly and expressively portrayed the intimate aspects of the life of the hero. Judge Michael Musmanno of the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania, in general, said: “This is not a book: it is a cesspool, a gutter, a rotting center, a mucous collection of everything that is in the rotten remains of human debauchery.” It turned out that people at that time were simply not ready for such a frank piece. But later George Orwell called it the most important book in the mid-1930s.The US Customs Service at one time forbade the novel to import into the US, permission was given only thanks to the decision of the US Supreme Court. In 1986, the book was banned in Turkey.
“Slaughterhouse number 5”, Kurt Vonnegut (1969).
The book tells the story of the American soldier Billy Pilgrim, the original alter ego of the author himself. During the Battle of the Ardennes in World War II Vonnegut was captured by the Germans. The protagonist of the book was sent to Dresden for work. He was kept with his comrades in the slaughterhouse No. 5 at night, and was taken to the basement during the bombings. It was there that the prisoners were captured by a terrible attack by Americans on Dresden. At this moment, Billy himself is haunted by visions of the past and the future, of his own death. In his book Vonnegut transferred all the horror that he experienced, pulling out of the ruins of thousands of corpses. The scenes turned out to be so gloomy that in the US the book was banned so as not to injure children. Until now, this work is among the 100 books that most often fall under the restrictions on extradition to the population in the Association of American Librarians. For the sake of justice it is worth noting that there are also works of Mark Twain, Theodore Dreiser and other classics of world literature. Vonnegut showed that the bombing of the city was a senseless step by the US military, part of the monstrous nonsense called “war.” Germans themselves appear not as enemies, but as tired and tortured from the war as the Americans.
“Satanic Verses”, Salman Rushdie (1988).
The plot at first glance does not bear anything prejudicial. The book describes the life of an Indian immigrant in modern England. The style of narration is magical realism. The lives of the main characters – Jibril Farishita and Saladin Chamchi are full of transformations into angels, movements in time and space. The book is closely intertwined with religion. The Muslim community considered this attitude to Islam – blasphemy. A week after the publication in England around the world swept wave with the requirement to ban the book. In the end, reading such a book in Venezuela will result in 15 months in prison. In Japan, fines were introduced for those who sold the English-language edition. Even in the US, some bookstores refused to take the book for sale, receiving threats from the unknown. In 1989, mass demonstrations against Rushdie were held in Pakistan and India, and even were killed and wounded. Ayatollah Khomeini called in general to execute all those involved in the release of this book, the head of the author himself was awarded a reward.
“It’s good to be quiet,” Stephen Chobsky (1999).
To write this book, Chobsky was inspired by the famous work of JD. Selinger, “The Catcher in the Rye.” The book tells of the boy Charlie, who writes letters to his anonymous friend. In them, the teenager talks about his life, which is full of bullying, sexual harassment and drugs. Charlie talks about his first love and suicide, his experiences are close to every teenager. The book has received so many scenes of a sexual nature that it constantly includes in the list of banned Association of American Librarians. John Malkovich produced a film based on this novel. His director was all the same Stephen Chobsky.
“Decay”, Chinua Achebe (1958).
“Decay” became the most famous book for this African writer. For her, Achebe in 2007 received even the Booker Prize. The novel narrates about Okonkvo, the leader and local champion in wrestling. The book takes place at the junction of XIX-XX centuries in Umofia, this fictional region united nine settlements of Nigeria. The novel shows how the British colonial system, coupled with Christian missionary work, influenced the traditional African communities. This book was banned in Malaysia, local authorities found it unnecessary to criticize colonialism and its consequences.
“The American Psycho”, Bret Easton Ellis (1991).
The book tells the story of the American Patrick Bateman.This rich man of Manhattan becomes eventually a maniac killer. Roman caused a sensation with his detailed and frank scenes of violence and sex. Ellis described the scenes of the murders of young women, colleagues, homeless people, random passers-by and even animals. At the same time, there is no plan for a maniac, he is driven by greed, envy and hatred. In 2000, the novel was screened. The scandalous book was limited to circulation in Germany, the authorities considered it harmful to minors. Until recently, the book was banned in Canada and Australian Queensland. The author himself after the publication of the novel received many letters with threats and expressions of hatred.
“Transformation”, Franz Kafka (1912).
This short story tells of a simple traveling salesman Gregor Zamz who financially provided his parents and sister. One morning, Zamza discovered that he had turned into a huge beetle. The family locked him in the room, only his sister brings him food. Deprived of income, relatives are forced to start saving. Gregor himself feels remorse. Over time, the lodgers settle in the house, and relatives lose interest in the former breadwinner. As a result, the former favorite of the family died, and the story ends the description of a cheerful family walk that forgot Gregor. Kafka’s works were banned, both by the Nazis and by the Soviet regime. Even in his native Czechoslovakia he was not published. The fact is that the author worked exclusively in German, refusing to use his native language.
“Lolita”, Vladimir Nabokov (1955).
This novel is a visiting card of Nabokov. The book tells the story of a mature man and his painful passion for young girls, nymphets. Humbert Humbert was carried away by the 12-year-old Lolita, the daughter of a widow. To satisfy his passion, he married the girl’s mother. When a woman dies, nothing prevents Humbert from satisfying his passion. He began to travel with Lolita, stopping at random motels and having sex. Nabokov’s book caused a shock. The editor of “Sunday Express” called it the dirtiest ever read. The publishing house found the circulation pornographic, having withdrawn completely. The following year, the book was banned in France, in England the ban was in force from 1955 to 1959, and in South Africa from 1974-1982. Pursued “Lolita” in Argentina and New Zealand. But in the US “Lolita” was published without problems. The scandal brought the book to fame, and the author himself a large income.